Would you like to wear curry smell as cologne?
Dr. Tilak S. Fernando
If you happen to live in a Western country where house designs do not allow much of ventilation unlike in Sri Lanka, but have to depend on extractor fans while cooking to avoid curry smells sticking on to your best suit. Open plan designed houses in the West where the kitchen is an extension of the living/dining area (even in some modern designs in Sri Lanka) the whole house could smell of curry during cooking as the aroma spreads all over says, my friend Dr Hector Perera, who has a PhD in Chemistry in London.

According to Hector, all essential oils of low boiling points escape with steam and condense on any cold surface .To minimize this he has come out with a bright idea how to minimise this and to avoid steam and volatile gases depositing on other surfaces during food preparation.

What is this aroma (smell)? I would not like to call any palatable food as 'Smelly'. He defines it as volatile gases of food ingredients and spices which are supposed to be in the food and not on peoples' face, hands, clothes and hair and the result being when they go out of their houses they could be wearing curry smells like aftershave or cologne. Cooking is a very scientific exercise which is easy and full of fun if done properly Perera advises. Referring to so many professional chefs who appear on television, he says he cannot remember any of them talking about chemical and physical changes as they cook.

Scientific approach
"They do not pay attention to the boiling points or volatility of these gases in the food; they just brag about their cooking with fire on full blast; they love to show their saucepans catching fire, may be with the notion that higher the fire, greater the audience will be, " he adds flavour to his own theory. Dr Perera's scientific approach is different and more modern, practical and easy to apply on a day-to-day life by anybody. He is of the opinion that this kind of education should start from school age.

"What is the point in learning science in schools if their acquired knowledge is not going to be utilised when they leave school, he questions. His arguments being all governments are investing millions on science education with new and modern laboratories, new schools, buildings and colleges and introduce new technology, but children do not seem to make full use of all such facilities!

Hector's method to save energy (both gas and electricity) seems to be unique, very much scientific and easy to learn. Gas being a fossil fuel, he says, tends to run out soon, and if one is not careful with how one uses it, then it will mean one having to pay extra money on gas, which is not a pet subject at the present time where price of energy keeps on skyrocketing on a roller coaster basis.

"May be gas and electricity suppliers won't be very keen on my technique because I show how to use less energy", argues Perera. But how does he do it?

Just to give some preliminary hints, he warns not to use aluminum utensils for cooking because acids in various cooking ingredients tend to attack aluminum which in turn dissolves and poison the food, ultimate result being brain damage!

Aluminum utensils
To substantiate his (secret) theory he goes on to explain by saying: "When an apple fell on the head of that little boy (Isaac Newton) he discovered gravity. Electricity was first discovered by an Englishman (Watts) who had no qualification other than a fair knowledge of Maths and English. He left school at the age of 14 and worked as an errand boy to a bookbinder, but Sir Humphrey Davy gave him a job in the lab when he pleaded. He discovered electricity and became the Director of that institute subsequently, more than 300 years ago".

The whole world today is worried about the escalating energy price increases. Dr Perera vows that he will be able to show how to save money by using minimum gas or electricity to save approximately 60-75 percent energy and still cook in a scientific manner. He has once appeared on Sri Lankan television during a short visit and is impatiently waiting for a commercial institution or the government to beckon him to show his new theory; he is quite confident that his 'secretive technique' will help save millions of national wealth which is spent on gas and electricity by consumers today the world over.

Did "Isaac Newton reveal his own idea, the gravitational pull discovery to his neighbours or friends first, before passing on to scientists?" Haber found how to make Ammonia that lead to make gunpowder and fertiliser. He was awarded over 100,000 Pounds in late 1930s for his discovery and also awarded a Nobel Prize.

Nobel Prize
Mr Nobel found how to make dynamite to blast off bridges and then set up a Nobel Prize for peace. Ziegler invented the polythene bag for which he received a Nobel prize. Dr Perera is lamenting as to why he is not given an opportunity to demonstrate to the nation or the world about his technique". Dr Hector Perera is not a chef but a qualified Chemist, a science aficionado and the author of a GCSE (O) and (A-Level) Chemistry Model Q & A books and CDs. Putting in real chemical jargon he says. Don't forget that 'every action has an equal and opposite reaction! What would be my reward or the recognition if I were to prove it right? If I fail, I am willing part with Rs 250,000 to any challenger. Invite me for a demonstration of energy saving and scientific cooking". His enthusiasm has no bounds.